How To Track Your Mileage For Work: The Ultimate Guide To Nailing Your First Mileage Claim

Aug 28, 2019Blog

While tracking your mileage on the job can be a tedious project, it’s important to be able to accurately prove your mileage while working. 

If your employer reimburses you for the mileage you cover, you’ll need to be able to prove you traveled those miles so that you can get the payment.

In order to collect your full mileage claim payment without any hassle, you really just need to keep a few simple steps in mind. 

But before we go over how to track your miles, let’s talk about why you’re being reimbursed for them in the first place. 

Why Do Some Employees Get Reimbursed For Mileage At Work?

According to Peggy Emch of Timeshare, “While federal law does not require employers to reimburse employee expenses and mileage, some states, such as California, do. Furthermore, federal law does require that employers pay minimum wage. 

When the cost of the expense causes the employee to drop below the minimum wage, the employer does have to reimburse mileage and expenses.’

While in many other states, employers are only required to reimburse workers if mileage expenses are putting them below minimum wage, in California, all employers must reimburse for mileage and expenses acquired while traveling on the job. 

How Much Should You Get Reimbursed For?

The IRS sets a different standard mileage reimbursement rate each year for employers to use as a guide for their company reimbursement policies. 

In 2019, the rate is .58 cents per mile for standard business use. 

Most companies use this rate, but there are special cases in areas where the cost of vehicle operation is especially high, that the employer may choose to reimburse at a higher rate. 

For various reasons, some employers may even choose to use a lower rate.

If your employer uses a rate that is above the IRS standard, the difference is taxable for you and not for your employer. 

For example, if your employer reimburses .60 per mile, they will get a tax break for the first .56 cents per mile. You can then claim the remaining .04 per mile on your tax return. 

How Do You Accurately Track Your Miles?

Above all else, be sure to track your miles every day. 

This is critical. Do not try to guess your mileage at the end of the week, or month – or worse, at the end of the year. 

If things aren’t recorded meticulously, the IRS can audit the business you work for. 

This may cause a loss of deduction on top of some very hefty penalty fees. 

According to Dr. Jean Murray of The Balance Small Business, The IRS wants ‘timely and accurate’ records. It expects you to keep a ‘daily log’ showing miles traveled, destination, and business purpose.’ The easiest way to do this is to stick to an ‘at-the-time’ log. You will need four pieces of information for every business trip: the date, your odometer reading at the start and finish, and why you are making the trip.”

The IRS doesn’t care how you track your mileage as long as you can clearly provide: 

  • Exact dates of each trip
  • The destination and purpose of the trip
  • An odometer reading before and after the trip
  • And total miles traveled during each trip

Some companies use apps for this purpose, some use an excel sheet, and some record manually on paper. 

At Infinity Staffing, we provide a tracking sheet that can help you manually fill out your mileage every day. 

Once you get into the habit of reaching for your clipboard every time you get in the car, it will get easier and easier to add this quick process to your work routine.

To start tracking your miles, follow these five steps:

  1. Date your tracking sheet.
  2. Before you turn on your car, write down your destination, and briefly describe its work-related purpose.
  3. Check your odometer and record the exact reading.
  4. Once you arrive at your destination, check your odometer again, and record this new reading.
  5. Subtract the first reading from the new reading to get your miles traveled. We recommend using a calculator so there’s no room for human error!

If you also use your personal vehicle for business (rather than a company car) you are required by the federal government to record your mileage at the beginning of the year, and again at the end of the year. 

This will help you calculate the percentage of time each year that you use your vehicle for work. 

Tracking your work miles can take some getting used to, but once you make it a work ritual it will get easier – and you’ll be getting reimbursed – in no time.

If you want help getting placed with the perfect job, contact us at Infinity Staffing today.